The Angel's Dispatch
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September 2004

The Commander’s Thoughts

     The Swamp Angels and Spaight’s Angels Family Day is all planned except for a few minor details. It will be at Randy and Connie Billingsley’s Ranch in Mayfield, Texas. Everyone will being what ever meat they want to cook and a pot-luck covered vegetables dish to share with everyone. Try to impress some of us with your fantasy veggies. Also bring what drinks you will want but Randy insist that the pond water is still free out there. And one more thing. Remember that cake we had at our chartering ceremony? We saved the blue, Texas flag area. It has been packed air tight in three layers of foil and frozen. It will be thawed out in time for us all to finish it off. Remember that strawberry layer in the middle. Boy I can’t wait. One look at me and you can see that I do not wait long on sweets anyway.

     The women will have a Ladies Tea and Judy is planning things for the younger kids. The men will be doing important things like adding lead to Randy’s soil. Bring your guns and plenty of ammo. Randy even promises to fire his cannon a few times too.

     The date will be set at the next meeting. If not enough people want to go then it might be called off so, if you want to go you will need to contact me and let me know. Because of the long drive we will try to set up a carpool.

     Sam is the Head of the Nomination Committee. Contact him if you either want to run for an office or even if you want to remain in your appointed or elected office. Elected offices are Commander, 1st and 2nd Lieutenant Commanders and Treasurer. Appointed offices which are appointed by the Commander are Adjutant, Chaplain, Quartermaster, Judge Advocate, Historian, Surgeon, and Color Sergeant. If you desire to serve your camp in an appointed office then let me know. I’ll write down your name and what office you want.

     On August 23rd, 2nd Lieutenant Commander Randy Billingsley went to the Courthouse in Austin for the Courthouse Vigil. He spent the day with a friend. (picture on next page) From August 23rd to the 27th, Monday through Friday, our camp, along with a camp from the Northern and Central Brigades were assigned to be at the courthouse. Randy was the only one from our camp that could make the trip and I want to thank him for his efforts in making a show and representing our camp. I was hoping to be able to go and fly our camp’s Confederate flag. But, I could not make it.

     Our camp is still looking for a good bank or credit union to do our banking with. If you have any ideas then please bring it to the meeting. We have been chartered for almost a year and still do not have our money in the safety of a bank. This is very bad business gentlemen and we need to correct this as soon as we can.

     At our next meeting we will need to start planning for the Lee/Jackson Banquet to take place in January. This is the one time a year that we dress up, if you want to, and enjoy each other over a nice meal. This is when you wear your best Confederate uniform and medals if you have it. I will also be passing out some medals and awards at this banquet. We have also talked about inviting other camps whose members would pay for the meal. This means that we will need to finish planning this as soon as possible in order to have time to invite the other camps. There will be Lee/Jackson Banquets all over the United States during the month of January so if we do not quickly get our invitations out then the others will already have plans to go to another banquet. That means lost money that our camp needs.

     We have camp elections in November so time is not on our side. We must start and finish planning this banquet at the next meeting. My agenda is almost empty so we have the time next Saturday to do this. Bring your ideas and be a part of the planning of the most important celebration a camp can have each year.

     Before I go I want to thank 1st Lieutenant Commander Eric Sandifer of the Wallisville camp for delivering a presentation at our last meeting. Eric is a great speaker and if you missed the meeting then you missed some great education.

     If you would like to speak at other camps about anything to do with the War of Northern Arrogance then tell Sam. He heads the Presentation Committee and would love to promote you. If you speak to other camps, schools, or any other place then still let me know. I need to log it down for the Distinguished Camp Award application and Annual Camp Report that all Camp Commanders must fill out each year. We get points towards awards each time one of you gives a presentation.

Commander Vernon Gillen

Picket Duty

The Last Battle of the Civil War

     Since March 1865, a gentleman’s agreement precluded fighting between Union and Confederate forces on the Rio Grande. In spite of this agreement, Col. Theodore H. Barrett (USA), commanding forces at Brazes Santiago, Texas, dispatched an expedition, composed of 250 men of the 62nd U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment and 50 men of the 2nd Texas Cavalry Regiment (USA) under the command of Lt. Col. David Branson, to the mainland, on May 11, 1865, to attack reported Rebel outposts and camps. Prohibited by foul weather from crossing to Point Isabel as instructed, the expedition crossed to Boca Chica much later. At 2:00 am, on May 12, the expeditionary force surrounded the Rebel outpost at White’s Ranch, but found no one there.

     Exhausted, having been up most of the night, Branson secreted his command in a thicket and among weeds on the banks of the Rio Grande and allowed his men to sleep. Around 8:30 am, people on the Mexican side of the river informed the Rebels of the Federals’ whereabouts. Branson promptly led his men off to attack a Confederate camp at Palmetto Ranch. After much skirmishing along the way, the Federals attacked the camp and scattered the Confederates.

     Branson and his men remained at the site to feed themselves and their horses but, at 3:00 pm, a sizable Confederate force appeared, influencing the Federals to retire to White’s Ranch. He sent word of his predicament to Barrett, who reinforced Branson at daybreak, on the 13th, with 200 men of the 34th Indiana Volunteer Infantry. The augmented force, now commanded by Barrett, started out towards Palmetto Ranch, skirmishing most of the way. At Palmetto Ranch, they destroyed the rest of the supplies not torched the day before and continued on. A few miles forward, they became involved in a sharp firefight. After the fighting stopped, Barrett led his force back to a bluff at Tulosa on the river where the men could prepare dinner and camp for the night. At 4:00 pm, a large Confederate cavalry force, commanded by Col. John S. “Rip” Ford, approached, and the Federals formed a battle line. The Rebels hammered the Union line with artillery. To preclude an enemy flanking movement, Barrett ordered a retreat. The retreat was orderly and skirmishers held the Rebels at a respectable distance. Returning to Boca Chica at 8:00 pm, the men embarked at 4:00 am, on the 14th. This was the last battle in the Civil War. Native, African, and Hispanic Americans were all involved in the fighting. Many combatants reported that firing came from the Mexican shore and that some Imperial Mexican forces crossed the Rio Grande but did not take part in the battle. 

     These reports are unproven.

Lieutenant Commander Gene Rivers

The Adjutant’s Minutes

Huzzah from the Adjutant!

     Our last meeting was a great one, maybe the best one yet. We had some special guests from the Wallisville SVC, 1st Lt. Commander Eric Sandifer and his wife Glenda. After Commander Gillen called the meeting to order, I led the opening prayer, and also led in the saying of the pledges. Mrs. Sandifer gave introductory comments about her husband and the program which he would be bringing shortly.

     Then I read the minutes from the July meeting and gave the financial report. We had a couple of reports from committees. The Cemetery Committee reported that there are many cemeteries in our area with Confederates, and that we would soon be hearing specific plans to honor those Veterans. The Program Committee reported that we would be having a program at as many of our meetings as possible from now on.

     At that point, it was time for our program, and wow what a program it was. Compatriot Sandifer gave a spectacular speech about the “American Bastille.” The main point was how the Yankee government illegally imprisoned certain US citizens during the War of Northern Aggression. The historical background of this disgusting episode was fascinating, and the details about those involved was incredible to hear.

     After the program, we moved on to old business. We finished our discussion about nametags and chose the style of nametag we want. We then discussed the upcoming Family Day. We decided that we would bring our own meat for the grill, and bring a covered dish vegetable to share, and bring our own sodas. The OCR is bringing the remainder of the Chartering Cake for us to enjoy as well. All of these things were pending the approval of the Billingsley’s who we hope would be our hosts. We now know that the party is a go. The date of the party will be set at the next meeting.

     Next was new business. We admitted a new member, Butch Giles, into our camp. He was very enthusiastic and it was great having him in our meeting. We then discussed the Nominating Committee, which is to facilitate the election of officers in November. I agreed to serve as the Committee Chairman and to look for others who might wish to participate. Then we voted to give the OCR $20. We also discussed our need to have a Bank for our funds. We decided that we needed a bank that offered free checking, so more investigation is going to take place before our next meeting.

     After the business discussions were done, we heard from Commander Gillen about a couple of things. He mentioned that we would eventually need our own Color Guard in order to properly do Cemetery Ceremonies. He then mentioned the possibility that we would update or amend parts of our camp constitution in the near future. Finally Judith Gillen led the closing prayer.

     Overall, it was a great meeting. I am looking forward to the next one and hope to see you there!

Deo Vindice,

Adjutant Samuel Shurtleff


The Front Line

     Here is just a small example of the injustice against our Southern heritage this month.

August 12th.

     Last night an SCV member named Paul Martin was attending the Pioneers and Old Settlers Reunion in Alvarado, in Johnson County, in his Confederate uniform and carrying a Battle Flag. A policeman told him to put the flag up. Paul protested his 1st Amendment rights but did comply.

     That Friday night, Paul and a few of his friends returned to the fair grounds at Alvarado. They were wearing Confederate uniforms and carrying a Battle Flag. The Division advised Paul not to take any weapons. I am amazed that an event in Johnson County would bar the display of the Confederate Flag. I am hoping that this is just the action of one misinformed policeman.

For those of you that have not heard yet, here is some more good news, an e-mail I received on August 19th reinstating our elected brigade officers.


     I spoke with Commander in Chief Sweeney last night, concerning the Gulf Coast Brigade situation. It appears after the conversation that the only course of action that I can take is to comply with the ruling of the Commander in Chief.

    There were, with out question, irregularities in the Brigade election process and these must be reviewed by the Texas Division Executive Council. The CiC said he will fully support our efforts.

     As Texas Division Commander, I must act in the best interest of the Texas Division.

     I hereby appoint the following officers to the Gulf Coast Brigade:

Jim Westmoreland, Commander

Stephen Foreman, 1st Lt. Commander

James Hale, 2nd Lt. Commander

     I expect these men to perform the duties of the offices to the best of their ability.

God Save the South,

Steve von Roeder


Texas Division, SCV

     What gets me, as your humbled Camp Commander, is how can our elected brigade officers be appointed back into their offices when they were illegally removed in the first place. It’s kind of like our courthouse plaques. Why do we have to fight to have them replaced when they were illegally removed in the first place? If I steal your car does it take a lengthy law suit to get it back or would you get it back soon after my arrest? Ahhh the wonders of abused (divisional) power.


Spaight’s Angels

Letters And Diaries of Jed Hotchkiss

Friday, Sept. 5th

     We started about sunrise and went, by a private road, to Whites Ford and there crossed the Potomac into Maryland, Gen. Jackson on a cream-colored, or clay back horse, and riding on the left of the front. The 10th Va. Regt. Of infantry, preceded by a band and bearing a Virginia flag, was in the advance; as the band reached the Maryland shore it struck up the air, “Maryland, My Maryland,” amid shouts of the soldier. It was a noble spectacle, the broad river, fringed by lofty trees in full foliage; the exuberant wealth of the autumnal wild flowers down the margin of the stream, and a bright green island stretched away to the right. The General and his staff were treated to a noble melon on the Maryland shore. We went by the lock in the canal and there intercepted a boat load of melons on the way to the Washington market, which our men bought,… The General ordered a field of corn to be purchased and the roasting ears given to the men and the husks and stalks to the horses; he also bought rails and ordered the men to gave one day’s rations of roasting ears cooked and in the haversacks by dawn tomorrow.

Saturday, Sept. 6th

     We marched on towards Frederick City, by the way of Monocracy Bridge. The General was thrown from his new horse in the morning, and considerably hurt; so much so that he gave up the command, for a while, to D. H. Hill. The General got on his horse after a time and we went to a point above the Monocracy Bridge. I heard one of the soldiers say, as we passed by, wonder if the General has roasting ears in his haversack, too?” We soon stopped for dinner, when the General took a large roasting ear out of his haversack and deliberately gnawed off the corn, and the whole army, stretched for miles along the road, followed suit…..Our Hd. Qrs. Are some 4 miles from Frederick City, towards Frederick {Monocracy} Junction of the B. & O. R.R….Gen. Lee has his Hd. Qrs. Near ours.

     At the last meeting, I was going to show different designs and colors to choose from the banner we were going to make. Commander Gillen forgot to bring them. So I tabled it for the Oct. meeting. I have them in my carry-all to bring to the Oct. meeting. I will be going to Waco, Texas on the day of the meeting on September 11th, we are having a TSOCR executive meeting. I will bring back a report for the October meeting.

     At the last meeting we voted on sending the Big Thicket Wild Azalea Chapter #29, $10.00. I sent them the $10.00, I have the receipt to give to our treasurer.

     I will see you at the October meeting and will bring up the banner designs then.

God loves the Roses

Judith Gillen


The Masonic Corner

     There are many Masons in our camp and in the entire SCV. There is even a Masonic breakfast at all National Conventions for delegates that are also Masons. It is not my desire to separate the Masons in our camp from the other camp members by use of this section. But many times one of our lodges has a fish fry or other things of interest to the other camp members. At least twice a month I get an e-mail with information of interest to the Masons and non Masons in our camp.

     In this section I will only mention things that pertain to all Swamp Angels, Masons and non Masons alike. In some issues of The Angels’ Dispatch there will be no Masonic Corner because there will be nothing if interest to all of you. I will never put anything here unless it could be of interest to all Swamp Angels.

1. The Dayton Lodge is having a yard sell at the Lodge on September 17th and 18th, a Friday and Saturday. There are rod-n-reels, computer games, and much more. Now is your time to buy all of those things that you have wanted all of your life.

2. On October 9th, from 10AM – 6PM, there will be a reenactment at the Masonic Home in Ft. Worth.
Re-enactors are needed for living history and the battles. There may only be one battle. If you can go or just need more information e-mail Michael Dunagan at .



1. If you want to tell your loved one Happy Anniversary or Happy Birthday then let me know. I would be more than happy to write it here.

Happy Birthday

William (Butch) Giles born September 11, 1948

Richard Charping born September 12, 1962

2. I want to welcome a new man that has joined the Swamp Angels’ camp. He is William J. Giles Jr. of Baytown. Just call him Butch. After meeting the qualifications to join the SCV he was voted into our camp. His membership certificate should be in soon.

3. If any of you have something that you want brought up at a meeting please let me know so I can put it on my agenda or when I ask if there is any more business just stand and say what you wish.

4. Below is the list of camp officers and the offices they are serving in or offices they are running for in November. If your name is on this list then please contact Sam at (281) 386-8357 or e-mail him at and let him know if you want to run for reelection or want to be reappointed. Also let him know if you want to run for an elected or appointed office. Please feel free to run against someone if you wish to.

Red numbers signify offices that must be filled

Blue should be filled

Elected Offices

1. Commander:

Vernon D. Gillen Running for reelection.

2. 1st Lieutenant Commander:

Samuel (Sam) Shurtleff Running for this office.

3. 2nd. Lieutenant Commander:

Randy Billingsley Running for reelection.

4. Treasurer:

Samuel Shurtleff Will run for reelection.

Appointed Offices by the Commander

1. Adjutant:

Will be open if Sam is elected as 1st. Lt. Commander.

2. Chaplain:

Preston Billingsley

3. Quartermaster:

David Williams

4. Judge Advocate:

5. Historian:

Randy Billingsley Will be reappointed if I am reelected as Commander.

6. Surgeon:

7. Color Sergeant: